While his teammates were on the ice preparing for a six-game road trip that opens Friday night in Washington, Joe Sakic was addressing the media for the first time since leaving a Nov. 28 game against Phoenix after one shift with a back injury.
Sakic - who underwent successful surgery for a herniated disc on Jan. 7 - spoke on a wide range of topics Thursday, including his back injury, the status of his rehabilitation and his drive to get back on the ice.
“We just started rehab this week, so we’re just working on stability right now. After surgery, we haven’t been able to do anything for about six weeks,” said the 20-year NHL veteran. “Just a lot of rest and making sure you don’t move around too much. We just started, but things are progressing.”
While there is no definitive timeline for his return, Sakic’s ultimate goal is to get back on the ice before the end of the 2008-09 campaign.
“For now, it’s still too early for a timetable. I definitely want to be back sometime near the end of the year, give or take a couple of weeks,” said Sakic. “I’m not too sure right now, but as long as rehab keeps working and my back does fine and progresses, hopefully it will be by the end of the year.”
However, he stated that he won’t rush things with the rehabilitation and push himself to get back sooner, risking another injury in the process. Sakic was also adamant that he won’t be shutting himself down completely, regardless of where the team ranks in the standings whenever he is cleared to return.
“As long as my back keeps progressing, whenever it’s ready to go I’m going to be back,” Sakic stated. “I want to be back playing. That’s my goal. My intention is to come back and play as soon as I’m able to.”
When asked about his inspiration during rehab, whether it’s a short-term goal of getting back in the lineup late this season or a long-term approach of looking forward to 2009-10, the Burnaby, B.C. native said he’s taking things one day at a time. And much like last year, his decision on suiting up for a 21st season will be made over the summer.
“What I’m inspired about is getting back and playing. I want to finish the year. So hopefully I can do that and help this team,” said Sakic. “And then next year, like last year, I want to take my time in the offseason and decide if I want to go and play again.”
The Avalanche captain also touched on his hand injury. Sakic underwent surgery on Dec. 9 to repair three broken fingers and tendon damage following an incident that happened at his house involving a snow blower. The injury is now a non-factor, according to Sakic.
“I had that accident a couple of months ago and that’s irrelevant now. When my back is ready, I’ll be back,” said Sakic. “The one thing is that it didn’t force me to miss any games.”
Sakic ranks eighth on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 1,641 career points. His 1,106 career assists rank 11th all time, while his 625 career goals put him 14th on the all-time list.